Not fond of the taste of most major-brand beers, Mel Corley opted to become a do-it-yourself brewer.
Eight years later, the Chandler resident and his next-door neighbor have mastered the art of making beer, with eight recipes of their own and a brewing calendar that enables them to tap lighter brews in the summer, heavier ones for the holiday season.
“We started with kits, but as you start making your own recipes, you’ll goof sometimes,” Corley said. “It will still be drinkable, but you pretty much know where you went wrong. You try to keep that to a minimum.
“Luckily for us, the beers usually have come out great the first time.”
Corley and his neighbor, Rick Kessler, are examples that — as the old Miller slogan goes — if you have the time, you can have the beer, your way. As store prices for beer continue to climb, some drinkers have turned to home brewing as a cheaper, more flexible — and enjoyable — alternative.
“If you can boil water, you can make beer,” said Joel Robertson, manager of Brew Your Own Brew in Gilbert. “People will come in here and won’t buy anything, but the seed is planted in their head. I’ll see them two weeks later, and they’ll buy a kit. A lot of people have no idea you can do this at home.”
The Gilbert location for Brew Your Own Brew just celebrated its first year of operation; owner Gary Wilder has run a store in Tucson since 1996.
Kits range in price from $74.99 to $199.99, home brewers can add equipment as they gain experience.
A brief home-brewing dissertation from Robertson: “The initial process takes about four hours. There’s an hour of boiling in there. You’ll add hops at the beginning and end of the boil. The malt extract is also added at the start of the boil, and that ferments into alcohol.
“After the boil, you cool to 75 degrees and put the yeast in. The yeast makes the beer. The whole process from start to finish is about month to a month in a half. Some beers are made to be drank quickly, but others will taste better three or four months in.”
Got all that? If not, classes are offered at the Gilbert location on a regular basis.
Brew Your Own Brew also sells kits to make wine, cheese and soda. The process is not difficult, Robertson said.
“Especially the wine kit,” Robertson said. “I don’t want to say that it’s foolproof, but I have yet to meet someone who has messed up their own wine.”
A five-gallon batch of beer typically costs $40, Robertson said, translating to about 83 cents per 12-ounce bottle.
A six-pack of premium beer is about $7.99 at a store — $1.33 a bottle.
A bottle of wine that costs $25 in a store can be made at home for about $5, Robertson said.
“It’s a lot more economical to do it yourself,” he said.
Among Corley’s recipes are an India pale ale (IPA), red and hefeweizen. In May, he will make a porter that will age until it is drinkable in November.
“It’s still a lot of work,” Corley said. You have to pay attention to temperatures and how much grain you are using. But it’s fun.”
Asked which of the home brews is his favorite, Corley’s reply is simple:
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